According to Google Trends data, as much of America’s knowledge workers settled in for the second month of working at home under the COVID-19 work from home mandates, ‘Zoom fatigue’ hit an all-time high. But the truth is, it’s not just being stuck at home and having most of our socializing taking place over video conference calls that are to blame for our dissatisfaction with workplace meetings.
Whether it’s 9 million versions of conference call bingo or 21 million views of a conference call in real life, poorly-run company meetings have long been a source of employee dissatisfaction. A 2017 study published in Harvard Business Review surveyed 182 senior managers in a range of industries to gauge how meetings impact their work:
- 65% said meetings keep them from completing their own work
- 71% said meetings are unproductive and inefficient
- 64% said meetings come at the expense of deep thinking
- 62% said meetings miss opportunities to bring the team closer together
Many factors contribute to this negative outlook on workplace meetings, but one that has bubbled up significantly over the last few months is meetings are often where the lack of diversity and inclusion in the workplace shows up.
From women being more likely to be interrupted in meetings than their male colleagues, companies engaging in public displays of inclusion in task force meetings that are little more than ‘woke-washing,’ or attendees waiting for chronically late meeting hosts to let them into the team meeting, meeting culture is often an indicator of broader workplace culture and societal issues. Yet, without a means of objectively measuring and analyzing what’s happening in meetings, they remain a problematic culture detractor for many organizations.
Meeting Analytics Necessary to Drive More Inclusive Meetings
While having these conversations taking center stage in the media and workplaces around the world is a welcome change, most organizations have little more than employee survey responses about too many meetings, or anecdotal reports of truly terrible meetings.
But as company meetings are increasingly held online, video conferencing tools have started to provide insights into how diverse and inclusive our meetings are. This, in turn, can help leaders coach their teams on how to design and facilitate meetings that drive engagement.
Microsoft recently used workplace analytics to analyze how their work patterns were changing during the COVID-19 crisis, and uncovered some insights into its meeting culture:
- Weekly meeting time increased by 10% overall in this timeframe
- But individual meetings got shorter
- 22% more meetings under 30 minutes
- 11% fewer meetings over one hour
While understanding how much time your company is spending in meetings is a nice-to-have, you need to take a more in-depth look to drive meaningful culture change. When you hold your meetings online, you have the potential to track:
- The overall diversity of meeting participants
- Who is talking in meetings, and who isn’t getting any speaking time
- When interruptions are happening, and who is your most frequent interrupter
- If meetings start and end on time, or if some team members regularly show a lack of respect for the team’s time by being chronically late to start meetings
Online meeting analytics can give organizations usable data on just about every aspect of meeting culture by distilling them into insights that identify challenges in the meeting room and empower organizations to address them proactively. If your current online meeting platform can’t give you the data you need to drive change in your meeting culture, I invite you to check out Frameable Spaces and gain insights into your most important meetings—and your company meeting culture.